The bully-discourse will only serve to distract from everyones point, Amanda Palmer

Since Adland's Kidsleepy first posted about the call for free musicians in who killed Amanda Palmer's career? we received mainly comments that were ad hominem attacks on Kidsleepy being a "bitter cynical person". Ah, well, haters are gonna hate as they say, but it's sad to see that so few of them can read. The update more on Amanda Palmer's greed has choice quotes from a live sound engineer who has worked with Amanda, making his points. Amanda now has a new post on her blog, Amanda Palmer & Emily White….resisting the trolls. Emily White? The young lady who posted a post on NPR stating "I never owned any music to begin with", which prompted responses from all over the world, including this one from David Lowery and inspired Kidsleepy's series Collateral Damage: How Free Culture destroys advertising. How, exactly, is Emily's situation related to Amandas? One ripped all her albums off college radio stations collection without paying for it, another promises free beer and hugs to musicians who back her up on tour. Oh, it's the "no pay" thing, is it? Either way, they have met and drunk beer or ten after a gig Amanda did - paid in beer - which looked like a grand old time as depicted in her post. Not sure where the gas money that got her to the gig came from. Maybe her car runs on beer. But back to the trolls, they are indeed a problem. The ones who will build straw men just to set them on fire, call you names, and miss the point by a mile. We had them dancing in the comments around our first Amanda post, and Amanda seems to have gotten angry mails.

i got an email a few days that was so profoundly nasty it took my breath away. it was from one of the erstwhile violinists from a big, legit-as-fuck orchestra i’ve played with (about as PRO and UNION as it gets in music world, and they’re a really wonderful orchestra who i was honored to play with). it began: “dear amanda, you ignorant slut…” i sat there staring at the screen, almost unable to believe what i was seeing. a professional, symphony-hall-level violinist? was starting an email to me like THAT? no FUCKING way.

The thing is, there are very well thought out responses in Amanda Palmers own blog comments to her posts, many admitting to being huge fans before they state their reasons for thinking not paying musicians on tour is a bad idea. Level-headed discourse is being held, but the squeaky wheel gets the oil. David Lowery has in fact weighed in on this at Occupy Amanda Palmer, his post is a polite well thought out one, sans any hate or trolling in it. Which is, I guess, the reason it will be ignored.

It appears that Ms Palmer has very conservative financial instincts she probably learned by years of down and dirty touring. I get that. Her mistake is she didn’t realize that her financial situation has changed, and many of the old rationales are not there anymore. Once there is profit it should be shared equitably. She simply failed to adjust to her new success. If Ms. Palmer is able to adjust her thinking and accept that she is now an employer in the 1% of musicians and pay all her musicians, we should all move on. Until then I am adding my voice to those asking her to fairly compensate all her musicians.

I knew it, she has gas money already. Free beer is just a perk! Here's the really interesting thing though - from a brand perspective you see. Amanda Palmer is the queen of punk, drawn eyebrows, half-gloves, and now a poster child for kickstarter. Her fanbase has grown organically and she engages them in her art. She's done this since the Dresden Dolls where fans who could hula-hoop to their music could join them on stage when they toured their hometown. This is her brand. Her brand is also now veering dangerously close to becoming the woman who yells "hater" whenever anyone disagrees with her. By sharing nasty emails she martyrs herself as she digs herself deeper into the whole she built out of a one million dollar extra budget she gained with her kickstarter campaign. The unpaid "intern" way of gathering a new backing band in every city she has a gig in isn't the same issue as the kids who digitally download music without paying for it. Or is it?

this is always the problem….can the world remember that the human beings behind the issues are not the issues themselves, and restrain themselves from making it personal? I can’t tell you how many “you’re such a stupid cunt” and “i’d pay to travel just to fuck up your gig…if i played violin” tweets i’ve seen in the past few days, and emily had to field similar trolls who weren’t interesting in actually talking but more interesting in just being dicks.

I hear that, Amanda. The intartubes has a way of making people keyboard warriors, and you can with some experience soon see the difference between trolls and those who simply disagree. You may not have planned to pay anyone with your napkin budget plan that you posted on kickstarter, but now that you have budget and chose to not compensate parts of the ensable that stands on stage with you, you are in fact being anti labour. Anyone who works has the right to be compensated for it. I didn't vote for Amanda Palmer to be my king.

"no doubt about it: my band has hit a DEEP, PAINFUL cultural nerve."

This polarizing topic of creators rights has been hotly debated for years, Amanda, welcome to the party, have some death threats like the rest of us **! The two sides will never meet as long as the trolls are doing most of the talking, so please Amanda, ignore them, and address those who make their points politely.
The Free culture movement rides on the myth that it is actually free, and that free isn't hurting anyone. "If they want to play for beers, it's their choice!" you say, but nobody is giving them the option to chose "being paid", so it's not a choice. "Free" digital downloads built Kim Dotcom's mansion - you remember him, he's the billionaire who made his money on insider trading causing a stock crash - while the musicians that made the songs you loved have to pass the hat around to pay their rent.
Not everyone who can play an instrument gets a one million dollar kickstarter buffer, and I seriously doubt anyone would fund an oboist who wants to travel with various bands. If we all are famous for only fifteen minutes like Warhol says, who will have time to look at all these kickstarter campaigns? And where will we make the money we donate - as photographers, illustrators and designers were offered only beer for work too. They say it'll get us "exposure". Can we pay kickstarter in beer? No? Hugs then? I'm willing to hug every current kickstarter campaign out there right now. FREE HUGS FOR EVERYONE.

**... in fact, some of us received serious death threats - complete with photographs of myself taken by unknown people outside of my home and posted to Chinese messaging boards - simply for allowing the red cross to post their work on adland, which they had to pull because an internet mob in China was offended, but that has nothing to do with kickstarter, music or the brave new link economy.

However it does illustrate how internet mobs quite easily can scare many people into remaining silent, on any given topic. Less famous people than Lily Allen have deleted their pro-copyright posts, this is a two-way street and you are not the first to one to battle with words on the internet. Don't wrestle with the pigs in the mud, it'll only sully your own name - I'd offer to manage your brand reputation here, but I'm afraid I don't work for free. I like beer, but not that much beer.

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kidsleepy's picture

A lot of musicians champion the Occupy Wall Street people, because they're activists. We complain that someone with money to pay musicians should pay them. And we get called 'activists,' in a negative sense.

But one opinion I am tired of hearing is the opinion stating "it's THEIR choice to work for free." One commenter on Amanda Palmer's latest post erroneously bemoaned the good old days of the original Woodtsock that brought the music to the people for free. But guess what? The musicians were PAID. INcluding the backing musicians! Check it out. And before you say anything about the money, remember, this is 1969 money. Which when you adjust for inflation, is a TON.

Jimi Hendrix (and his jammin’ buddies) – $18,000

Blood, Sweat and Tears – $15,000

Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival – $10,000

Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane – $7,500

Sly & the Family Stone – $7,000

Canned Heat – $6,500

The Who – $6,250

Richie Havens – $6,000

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Arlo Guthrie – $5,000

Ravi Shankar – $4,500

Johnny Winter – $3,750

Ten Years After – $3,250

Grateful Dead, Country Joe & the Fish – $2,500

And the list goes all the way down to the band Quill, which earned union scale: $375. You can take a look and wonder why someone like Canned Heat could command more than some of the others below them on the list; well, they had a couple of Top 20 singles in 1969, while CSNY at that time had yet to release its first album.

Want more proof? Then read, and I mean READ this article.

Dabitch's picture

They were paid quite handsomely. As they should have been, that gig is legend.

Interesting to bring up the peace love, free sex and drugs hippies though. I was just reading this from Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps by Emmet Grogan founder of the diggers.

The media kept applauding and broadcasting the news about what they called the dawning of a new era for the country and for the world. They pointed out that everything had been peaceful with no fights among the gigantic crowd of three hundred thousand. Well, no large, serious slugfests, at least. Just a few dozen minor stompings. The love shuck was given momentum by all the coverage, and the press even began calling the Love Ghetto of Haight-Ashbury things like "Psychedelphia" and "Hashbury." The HIP merchants were astounded by their own triumph in promoting such a large market for their wares. They became the Western world's taste makers overnight and built a power base upon their notoriety and their direct line into the mass media. The city's officialdom began to take the HIP leadership class a little more seriously. They held public conferences with them about token problems, like the rerouting of the municipal buses to avoid clogging up the Haight Street traffic, which was already overburdened with squares, shopping for a farout purchase to bring back to suburbia.

Emmett was angry. He didn't give a fuck about how much bread the HIP merchants were making, or particularly care that only a chosen few in the community were actually benefiting from these profits. He was simply angered by the outrageous publicity that the Haight Independent Proprietors had created to develop new markets for the merchandising of their crap--angry about how their newsmongery was drawing a disproportionate number of young kids to the district that was already overcrowded--thousands of young, foolish kids who fell for the Love Hoax and expected to live comfortably poor and take their place in the district's kingdom of love. Angry with most of the heads in the community who were earning a dollar doing something, like the rock musicians, and kidding themselves by feeling that all the notoriety was good and would bring more money into the underground and expand the HIP shops, providing more jobs for those who wanted them. The truth was that the disastrous arrival of thousands too many only meant more money for the operators of fly-by-night underground-culture outfits, the dope dealers, and the worst of the lot, the shopkeepers who hired desperate runaways to do piecework for them at sweatshop wages. It was a catastrophe and there was nothing to be done except leave, or try to deal with it as best one could. Whenever someone sought to reveal the truth of the situation, they were put down, ignored or dismissed as being unhip by the longhaired, false-bottomed hipsters who had money in the bank.

Dabitch's picture

There is an interview with Steve Albani here which deserves to be properly read in full so please click that link.

Q: Part of Amanda’s defence of her scheme seems to be that, simply, many fans would jump at the chance to play with their favourite musicians for no money — does this argument seem fair?

On the part of the fans, I totally understand and sympathize with this impulse. That’s starkly different from a millionaire asking people to do things for free, under the guise that she is giving them something by indulging them. It’s cheapness repainted as generosity and it’s gross. Using people in this way, exploiting their good nature for one’s own benefit, is a cancer that taints many enterprises and it always reflects poorly on the exploiter. It’s one of the things I hated most about the old-school record business, the practice of fucking with people who loved music so much they would put up with endless greed and abuse just to be a part of it. A new music business paradigm, if it is worth anything, should strive to be free of exploitation and be honest about its motives.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Even more interesting than Woodstock is the tour immortalized in the movie Festival Express, about a tour featuring Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and TheBand. There's a scene where some teenagers are protesting the fact that they have to pay (I believe) $16 to get in. Some of the artists think the kids have a point, but Bob Weir calls their bullshit, pointing out that you don't just demand stuff for free. Kind of explains why the Dead lasted so long.

AnonymousCoward's picture

As well, on some of the forums Palmer's defenders have said some pretty nasty stuff. One person was shocked (shocked!) to see that the musicians union was tweeting #indiegreed. Using twitter to call out Amanda Palmer... How rude!

Dabitch's picture

This has now made it to Gawker, and from a branding perspective it seems to me that manda Palmer is now known (outside of her own fan-base) as the Kickstarter poster child that is spotlighting the very non-transparent economics of Kickstarter funding.

ie; the shit hitting Amanda Palmers brand is now rubbing off on Kickstarter brand as well.

Quoting from Gawker Amanda Palmer’s Million-Dollar Music Project and Kickstarter’s Accountability Problem

For the most part, Palmer's explanation of her finances was difficult to accurately fact-check—$250,000 for recording fees and personal
"debts," $10,000 for assumed airfare, etc.—but for some of it one could make an educated guess, and Palmer's pricing seemed, as Pallett noted,
Besides the art books she plans on printing at $300 a copy, Palmer estimated that about 7,000 CDs and thank you cards would cost her $105,000 to manufacture and ship, while 1,500 vinyl records and cards would cost her $30,000. I called Standard Vinyl, an Ottawa-based record and CD brokering company, to gauge Palmer's prices. Co-owner Chris Saracino told me that even for top-of-the-line products, Palmer's estimates seemed "pretty high." "Just to give you a bit of an idea," Saracino said, "if you ordered 7,000 CDs from us, which would come in a normal jewel case and with a 32-page booklet of liner notes, you're looking at under $9,000."
To be fair, Palmer says her CDs come in a nondescript "hardbound case," which could connote some sort of artisan craft that's time-consuming and costly, and she's also got shipping costs. But even then the difference between $9,000 and $105,000 seems astronomical. $1.2 million is a lot of bucks. And her accounting seems shaky at best.